“The only worthwhile striving is after the highest ideals: If you aim for an easy target, your standard will inevitably decline, and no progress is ever made, except through real effort and real suffering.” - Servant of God Fra' Andrew Bertie

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WORLDWIDE CHAPLET OF PRAYER FOR GOOD FRIDAY

The Prince and Grand Master attending the Holy Rosary 
at the church of Sta Trinita dei Pellegrini in Rome, last year.

We have received the notice below from a member of the Order in the United States, and would thoroughly recommend to everyone, particularly members of the Order and Companions, this most excellent initiative of prayer for the Church and the intention of the Holy Father.

You are encouraged, as it says, to pass this on by email to your Catholic friends.

We take this opportunity, on behalf of the Grand Prior, who thanks you all most warmly for your prayers for his continued recovery, of wishing all our readers a most holy and joyful Triduum and Eastertide.
Are you aware there is an initiative to unite all Catholics in prayer on Good Friday between Noon and 3pm. 
Everyone is aware of the downward moral spiral we are all caught up in which seems to be touching every aspect of our lives. Please consider praying with us to bring peace to the world and protection to those who are most in need of our protection, like the homeless, the elderly, children and young people, and the unborn. 
There is a great deal to gain and absolutely nothing to lose!
Imagine what might happen if every Catholic in the world would pray a Rosary on the same day! We have an example in October of 1573, when Europe was saved from the invasion of the mighty Turkish fleet, by the praying of the Rosary by all Christians.
So, on Good Friday, let us all pray a Rosary for peace in the world and the return of moral values into our communities. If possible, please pray your Rosary between Noon and 3:00pm 
Also, please e-mail this message to every Catholic on your address list, and ask them to pass it along to every Catholic on their lists. Let's unite in praying one of the most powerful prayers in existence, for these intentions, on one of the holiest days in our Church year.

NOVENA OF PRAYER FOR THE HOLY FATHER

In the light of the recent and growing scurrilous attacks upon the Holy Father in the mass media, which Archbishop Nichols has written about in today's Times, where he says "What of the role of Pope Benedict? ... He is not an idle observer. His actions speak as well as his words", we are encouraged especially at this time, as indeed every day, to pray for the Pope and his ministry. (Read full article).

In particular we are invited now (see here) to join in a Novena of prayer to St Jean-Marie Vianney, the holy Cure d'Ars, patron of parish priests, and patron of this Year for Priests, for the intention of the Holy Father, beginning at First Vespers this Palm Sunday, and extending through the Sacred Triduum to Easter.

Please encourage others to join in this prayer.

V. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto.

R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. [Ps 40:3]

Pater Noster, Ave Maria.

Oremus. Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum Benedictum, quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen.
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V. Let us pray for Benedict, our Pope.

R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies. [Ps 40:3]

Our Father, Hail Mary.

O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Benedict, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, he may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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We might include in our prayers all those good priests who are damaged by these grievous scandals and allegations within the Church, and for the victims of abuse.

You may also wish to send an email message of support to the Holy Father.  This may seem an empty gesture, and clearly he will not see them all himself, but he will be told of the numbers of messages received, and the assurance of public prayer and support is greatly valued. Remember, he is praying for you every day. The address is: benedictxvi@vatican.va

Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam.

Thursday 25th March - ANNUNCIATION OF THE BVM

In Her wisdom and charity the Church grants us this Solemnity to rejoice in the first step in the story of our Salvation, as the Angel Gabriel makes known to Our Blessed Lady her part in God's Divine mission, and gives us a last break from our Lenten fast.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be offered at 6.30pm this evening for the repose of the souls of Kevin Cunnane, Regent of the Irish Sub-Priory of Saint Oliver Plunkett; and of Sor PurificaciĆ³n, Commandress of St John of the Convent of St John of Acre, Salinas de AƱana, in Spain, both of whom died this week. Requiescant in Pace.

The memento of the living will also be offered for the continued recovery of Fra' Fredrik Crichton-Stuart, Grand Prior of England, who remains gravely unwell.

Your assistance in these pious intentions is requested, with the assurance of the prayers of the members of the Grand Priory and British Association for all those who collaborate in the spiritual and charitable work of the Order.

Our Lady of the Annunciation, pray for us.
Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us,
Blessed Gerard, pray for us.

THURSDAY 1st TO SUNDAY 4th APRIL - EASTER TRIDUUM

The Order will be celebrating the full Latin liturgy of the Sacred Triduum, as in previous years, in the context of a Spiritual Retreat.

Everyone, especially Companions and those who in any way associate themselves with the work of the Order, by assisting in the Hospital or Hospice or by regular attendance at Masses in the Conventual Church, is warmly encouraged to attend both at the Solemn Liturgies (indicated in BOLD in the timetable below), which should form an important part of the liturgical life of all Catholics, and also at the Spiritual Conferences, which will help us to deepen our understanding of our Faith. They will be given by one of the Order Chaplains.

The Office of Matins and Lauds, historically known as Tenebrae, will be sung in chant each morning in choir by the Knights, to which all are most welcome. This provides an opportunity for those committed elsewhere for the main Liturgies to participate in the Triduum in the Conventual Church.

Good Friday is a day of Fasting and Abstinence, upon which all Catholics between 14 and 60 must refrain from eating meat products, and may only eat one simple main meal and two small snacks, or collations. Water may be taken at any time.

Lent ends on Spy Wednesday, and Maundy Thursday, despite the solemn anticipation of Our Lord's Passion, is also a day of rejoicing for the institution of Holy Communion at the Last Supper, at which Christ gave His risen Body to His Church for our salvation.  For this reason the Mass is celebrated in white with Gloria. It is fitting that we also celebrate this at our tables with more festal food, and those who have abstained from meat for the whole of Lent should end their fast on this day.

Booklets for the principal liturgies and for the Divine Office will be available.

A printable leaflet with all the details below may be downloaded here.

Maundy Thursday (1st April)

Matins and Lauds (‘Tenebrae’) 10.00am
Sext 12.45pm
None 2.30pm
(Vespers are omitted by those assisting in choir at the Evening Mass)

Spiritual Conference on the Liturgy 7.15pm

Solemn Mass ‘in Cena Domini’ 8.00pm
followed by Procession to Altar of Repose and Stripping of the Altars

Compline (at the Altar of Repose) After the Stripping of the Altars

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Altar of Repose will continue until Midnight.

 Good Friday (2nd April)

Matins and Lauds (‘Tenebrae’) 10.00am
Sext 12.45pm
None 2.00pm
(Vespers are omitted by those assisting in choir at the Liturgy of the Passion)

Spiritual Conference on the Liturgy 2.15pm

Solemn Liturgy of the Passion 3.00pm  


Compline, with Veneration of the relic of the True Cross 6.00pm

HOLY SATURDAY (3rd April)

Matins and Lauds (‘Tenebrae’) 10.00am
Sext 12.45pm
None 2.30pm
Vespers 5.00pm
(Compline and Matins are omitted by those assisting in choir at the Solemn Easter Vigil.)

Spiritual Conference on the Liturgy 9.15pm

Solemn Easter Vigil 10.00pm 

EASTER SUNDAY  (4th April)

Solemn Conventual Mass (Latin) 9.15am  

Sung Mass (English)  11.00am

Sung Vespers and Benediction  4.00pm

REPORT ON EVENING OF RECOLLECTION AND TEXT

We are profoundly grateful to Fr Dominic Robinson, who gave the most inspiring mediation at the evening of recollection last Thursday, having celebrated the first Mass of the Feast of St Joseph, in a sung plainsong Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form.
The shrine of Saint Joseph in the Conventual Church
Forty members of the Order, Companions, Patients and regular Mass-goers attended the evening, which concluded with holy hour, confessions and Benediction.

Fr Robinson has been so gracious as to provide a resume of his mediation, which we include below, for the benefit both of those who wish to dwell further upon his talk, and for those unable to attend:

You are recommended to read the Gospel passage first, John 11:1-45, a text may be found here:
A.M.D.G.
I am basing my talk on the Gospel of the 5th Sunday of Lent for Year A.   This is always an option for this coming Sunday, especially from a catechetical point of view as there are some very important Lenten themes.  So it is also useful for reflection in our pilgrimage of faith leading to the Easter Festival.  And it’s good to take time now to reflect on the Word of God the Church prescribes for the Liturgy and to pray with it – as Benedict XVI encourages us to do repeatedly.
I will give 3 basic points:
1)    On our intimacy with Christ & inner disposition – prayer, also fasting & almsgiving as outward expression of this.
2)    The Sacrament of Confession, Penance & Reconciliation, & spiritual resurrection, restoration of intimate friendship with God
3)    Seeing the power of this Sacrament which comes from God through the Church, from outside of myself in my human finitude.

1)            Lazarus comes out of his cave to be untied at Jesus’ command, but what’s in the background here; what’s between the lines in this great drama of new life?  Who is this Lazarus? 
·               Lazarus is the man who is also part of an ordinary human family who cares deeply for him.  They have lived, loved, and struggled together.  They are people with similar character traits as us and our own families: sometimes like Martha, perhaps veering towards the obsessive and pushy – yet still caring always for those whom she loves;  sometimes like Mary – breaking down, unable to cope amid the confusion and sorrow, yet still lovingly doing her best.
·               And into this family walks Jesus and he becomes the centre of this family not as a walk-in part in this incident at which Lazarus is raised to life, but over time he becomes part of this family, and we’re told He loves Lazarus deeply. 
·               And we can imagine that Jesus is gradually welcomed into their lives: and there is a process of transformation to greater unity, greater faith, and greater love. 
·               So we are invited to see ourselves as we are, with all our sinfulness, all our hardness of heart, the annoying aspects of our personality, and to welcome Christ in to get to know us: so to be honest about our everyday struggles, whether in our families, at work, or wherever, and to be prepared to allow Jesus to be right there in the middle of us, and to know He comes to us as the One Who loves us, and who wants to stay with us.
·               And so to spend time in prayer, examining our consciences and asking myself am I disposed to let Our Lord in, or are there particular things I do or maybe don’t do, which shut him out.  So we need to ask: where is my sin?  Sin is that which shuts out God.  And to be able to do that we are called also in Lent to give alms and to fast: the exterior expression of our desire to let Christ in can help our interior disposition: but the key is disposition – am I ready to let Him into my life: that’s something to ponder for ourselves.
 2)            And that’s really just the start, the necessary inner disposition, recognising my sin, and allowing Our Lord into my home. 
·               But let’s return to the Gospel because this story is much more dynamic.  Because what ensues is a great miracle – a miracle which unbinds Lazarus from death and restores him to life. 
·               Note, however, that he comes out in his burial clothes – unlike Our Lord who is re-clothed in a glorious body.  Lazarus is unbound and returned to life with his family, which will involve pain, suffering, sin, but he knows deeply how the Lord Who loves him deeply is with him constantly.  And when we encounter the Lord He constantly wants to unbind us, to call us back into His Family, that is to the Church, and there - in the sacraments which mediate Christ’s Presence – and in particular the Sacrament of Confession – of Penance and Reconciliation – the sacrament which unbinds us and again and again, returns us to His Family strengthened for the earthly pilgrimage.   
·               A little about this wonderful sacrament: the Catechism of the Catholic Church is incredibly rich on the effects of this sacrament in our lives of friendship with God:
 1468 ‘The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship. Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.” Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true spiritual resurrection, restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God’.   
It is then that intimacy with Christ, that peace of mind in knowledge that we are part of God’s Family and doing His will that the Sacrament brings, reconciliation with God’s Family, that is the Church: 
1469 ‘This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members. Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland:  For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin. In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life’.
 3)            A final point returning to the Gospel story:
·               Imagine the scene of this unbinding: it’s worth thinking about.  Is Lazarus now come to life unbinding himself slowly?  No – that’s actually impossible – he needs to be unbound.  And that’s worth pondering. In our own culture we hear much about self-help, detox, rehab, spiritual spring-clean on our own – but for us this is impossible.  Our own efforts are a necessary precondition – we need to make an effort - but we are unbound of our sins and restored to friendship with God by Christ through the sacrament and in the Church for the Church. 
·               I think – as again and again – Pope Benedict puts his finger on the challenge posed by our western culture obsessed with self-help spirituality and feel-good religion in understanding this: - in his Lenten address he comes at it from the perspective of the justice of Christ, which is expressed in the power of His unconditional loving mercy: 
‘What then is the justice of Christ? Above all, it is the justice that comes from grace, where it is not man who makes amends, heals himself and others. The fact that “expiation” flows from the “blood” of Christ signifies that it is not man’s sacrifices that free him from the weight of his faults, but the loving act of God Who opens Himself in the extreme, even to the point of bearing in Himself the “curse” due to man so as to give in return the “blessing” due to God (cf. Gal 3, 13-14). … In reality, here we discover divine justice, which is so profoundly different from its human counterpart. God has paid for us the price of the exchange in His Son, a price that is truly exorbitant. Before the justice of the Cross, man may rebel for this reveals how man is not a self-sufficient being, but in need of Another in order to realize himself fully. Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one’s own need – the need of others and God, the need of His forgiveness and His friendship. So we understand how faith is altogether different from a natural, good-feeling, obvious fact: humility is required to accept that I need Another to free me from “what is mine,” to give me gratuitously “what is His.” This happens especially in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Thanks to Christ’s action, we may enter into the “greatest” justice, which is that of love (cf. Rm 13, 8-10), the justice that recognizes itself in every case more a debtor than a creditor, because it has received more than could ever have been expected. Strengthened by this very experience, the Christian is moved to contribute to creating just societies, where all receive what is necessary to live according to the dignity proper to the human person and where justice is enlivened by love.’
·               So I encourage you now to ponder this well-known Gospel story and what I’ve said and to ask yourself what is my inner disposition to friendship with God in prayer? 
·               And am I aware of the power of the Sacrament of Confession to restore it?
·               Do I see in the Sacrament the power of Christ, the Lover Who is the Other Who alone can unbind me and restore me to God’s family? 
Fr Dominic Robinson, SJ
19th March 2010

ARCHBISHOP VINCENT NICHOLS - PASTORAL LETTER FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF LENT

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The woman in today’s Gospel is hauled before the Lord by a judgemental society. She is isolated in her guilt. And therein lies the falsehood which Jesus uncovers. No one is guilty in isolation. Rather we are so bound to each other that a guilt which we might seem to be proper to one person alone almost always involves others, too.

Jesus’ silent and dramatic gesture of writing in the sand makes everyone present look into their own hearts and recognise their own failures and sins.

This same truth is at the heart of our Lenten journey. This is not a time for working out the blame to lay on others but a time for identifying our own faults, seeking forgiveness for them and trying to build a more virtuous life.

The pursuit of virtue is a key theme in a document which we Bishops of England and Wales have recently published under the title ‘Choosing the Common Good’. While the document is issued in the context of the forthcoming General Election, it is substantially about matters that can never be decided by an election. It is about the health of our society.

In it we speak about the pursuit of virtue because the virtues are the habits of the heart which shape the way we live and the contribution we make to the flourishing of those around us, whether in the family or wider society. We speak of the cardinal virtues: prudence, courage, justice and temperance and highlight how each one is keenly relevant to life today.

Prudence fashions us to be people who take care in decision making, trying to be attentive to principles and circumstances, exercising emotional intelligence rather than being shaped primarily by feelings and fashion.

Courage is the opposite of evasiveness: a temptation faced by us all, not least those in public life. The practice of this virtue makes us capable of facing the truth about ourselves and of remaining true to the undertakings we give.

The virtue of justice is the practical, day to day, recognition of the duties I owe to those around me: to my parents, to my children, to my school, to my work, to those who are caught in poverty or disaster, in Haiti, Chile, or those who live next door. The virtue of justice includes the practice of my duty towards God, in prayer and in taking part in the life of the Church.

Temperance – a very old-fashioned word – is probably the key virtue, for it helps us to use wisely the good things of this world, to be satisfied with enough, to resist the temptation to have more and more, or to indulge without regard for the consequences. In many ways, the virtue of temperance is a key to a happy life.

These virtues help us to build a good, healthy society in a way that no political programme can ever achieve. No amount of new regulations will nurture these virtues, for they are found in the kind of person we are trying to be and in what we do when no-one is looking.

Effective politics, and effective economics, actually depend on there being a morally healthy society in which we all recognise the importance of the common good, the potential for flourishing within every single person and the encouragement of virtue. These are important considerations as we prepare for a General Election. As well as examining the party manifestos with their wide-ranging policies, we would do well to ask how the different parties intend to help this kind of human flourishing.

Catholic Social Teaching, on which the document ‘Choosing the Common Good’ is based, is a rich resource for us all. Familiarity with its key themes will help us to assess our complex society.

Familiarity with this teaching will also help us to make the most of the wonderful prospect of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in September. As the details of the programme of this visit emerge, we will see how important our Social Teaching really is and the huge significance of the Holy Father’s presence in our society as a courageous witness to the truth of our humanity and to the truth of our Christian faith. Clearly we must prepare well for his visit and give him our heartfelt support when he is here. There will be much more about this at a later date. Sufficient for now that we promise our prayers for Pope Benedict, just as he promised to pray for us, to ‘hold us in his heart’ during this precious period of preparation for his historic visit.

Paul’s words to us today are very reassuring. Even such a great champion of faith as he readily admits: ‘I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me…All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards, to receive in Christ Jesus.’ (Phil 3.13-14) So we too, in these remaining days of Lent, renew our effort to be open to Christ, to receive his forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and patiently build up the practice of virtue in our lives.

In this way we not only contribute to the good of our society but also stay faithful to the Lord and to the building of his Kingdom.

Yours devotedly,

XVincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster

LITURGICAL CALENDAR FOR THE YEAR 2010

The LITURGICAL ORDO 2010 for the Order of Malta, as used in the Conventual Church, is now available for download, there is a link in the sidebar (see 'Downloads'), or you may click here. This is the calendar used at all churches and Masses of the Order in this form in this country, and by all Order Chaplains in their private Masses.

The Liturgical Calendar in the Ordinary Form is available on the Bishop's Conference website, here (online version), or here (printable leaflet). The Feasts of the Order are on the same dates in both forms.

Also available is the CALENDAR OF MASSES for the year 2010 to be celebrated in the Church at the Thursday Masses and other principal feast of the Order, in easily printable leaflet format, here. This will be of particular use to Members of the Order and Companions who attend Mass in the church regularly.

Additional downloads will be added to the sidebar when they are considered useful.

THURSDAY 18th MARCH - LENTEN EVENING OF RECOLLECTION

As has become customary in recent years, there will be a Mid-Lenten Evening of Recollection in the Conventual Church on Thursday 18th March 2010.

The Evening will be led by the Reverend Father Dominic Robinson SJ, from Farm Street.

It will begin with a sung Mass (New Rite) at 6.30pm, followed by a Holy Hour, which will include a short spiritual conference, concluding with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at around 8.15pm.

UPDATE: Please note, as this is the eve of the Feast of St Joseph, and no Mass is celebrated in the Church on the Friday, the Mass this evening will be an anticipated Mass of St Joseph.

There will be opportunity for confession during the evening.

All are very welcome to attend, and it is much recommended to make use of this opportunity to reinvigorate our Lenten discipline, as Lent is now half-way through!

Remember O man that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.